One of the most shameful acts committed during the last War was the purging of defenceless Serbs by the Croats in what was then Yugoslavia.
With the fall of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941, Nazi troops marched and installed the Fascist party NDH, under the leadership of Ante Pavelic, known as “lord of the dance macabre.”
Through his orchestrated cruelty and criminal acts, and with the full support of Cardinal Stepinac and his clergy, over 1 million defenceless Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, Christians, Orthodox and others would be mutilated and murdered, in systematic ethnic cleansing. After the War, most written records were deliberately destroyed or removed by Catholic/Ustashi sympathisers.
But fortunately, detailed accounts of atrocities did survive.
From 1941-1945 assorted concentration camps sealed the fate of so many, yet few are remembered today.
And overseeing the important religious element in the prepared butchery was Archbishop Stepinac; wartime collaborator with the Nazis and favoured military vicar to this murderous crew of criminals.
Under his churches banner, “Christ and the Ustashi march together,” a prepared ingredient of religion and nationalism was established. Then terror was unleashed upon the innocent men, women and children of Croatia.
Brutal religious Serbian conversions to Catholicism allowed religious fanaticism under Stepinac’s authority, and I suspect, blessed by the Holy See under Pope Pius XII to flourish through this and the Governments “religious programs.”
By wars, end Pavelic had escaped to the Vatican and there with the blessing of the pro-German Bishop Hudal, would sail on a prepared Vatican passport with many other fleeing Nazis from Europe to Argentina, disguised it seems, as a priest!
Pavelic would evade justice and die unremorseful in Franco’s Spain!
For the accused Archbishop a different legal scenario would enfold. He would be charged with collaboration with the Nazis and their puppet state. But not for crimes against humanity. (And as far as I understand it Stepinac never murdered with his own hands, sadly many of his serving clergy did. And with relish posing for sickening photographs as souvenirs!) Stepinac was never, as the Vatican claimed repeatedly, a “martyr” for his faith. But of knowingly sleeping with the enemy.
Of his trial, Pope Pius XII would protest of the illegitimacy of it and threaten excommunication to serving Catholic jurors if a guilty verdict was brought in. (I wonder if he ever did?)
In 1953 Stepinac would receive the red hat of a Cardinal.
One sometimes has to speculate if the splash of red symbolizes the shed blood of millions of innocent victims persecuted by the Catholic Church in anger and fear over the centuries.
Later Cardinal Spellman of New York (do read our article on him) gleefully praised Stepinac’s “love for God and homeland.” But what shallow words these now sound after all we have seen and heard of this Balkans holocaust.
But it made no difference at the Archbishop’s trial. The talking and lying were over.
The jury was out.
At the end of the trial, the court would sentence Stepinac to 15 years hard labour but quietly release him after four years to serve out his sentence in his hometown of Krasic. He would live ten years after his release dying in 1960.
Today his body lies interred and on display in Zagreb Cathedral.
In 1989 Pope John Paul II called for the canonization of this Croat criminal.
Today under the new Pontiff (see our article “Ratzinger Remembers”) it remains a controversial gesture the Vatican has yet to decide or announce.
Today we at ECFC would demand of Pope Ratzinger-Stop! Before you sign anything promoting the glory of this man.
Remember, if you will, the tragic case of Mileva Bozinichz. Her unborn baby was dug out of her stomach, and with a blunt rusty knife! Yet she was just one of the hundreds of thousands of women and young girls who suffered this humiliation and much more in those Pavelic/Stepinac years of slaughter.
And listen if you will to the lasting lament from Heaven of the 11,176 children who were deliberately starved and murdered in the Camps of Sisak and Jastrebarko.
Then as you sit in your beautiful garden at Castel Gandolfo this morning, put aside your “Mont Blanc” pen and settle the rustling papers on your desk for your next prepared encyclical. Now, can you hear the little one’s petitions for justice – heard in charming unison for your ears alone. Today they demand to be heard. Now, without delay!
And did not once before the Holy See refuse this kind gesture to them and their murdered families. Today you have an opportunity to right a terrible act and beg their forgiveness!
And of Cardinal Stepinac “to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13.) From him will you hear nothing. Only deafening silence.
Of the Catholic churches barbaric collusion with the Ustashi during the War towards the Serbs and Orthodox faiths, we should read Jer. 23:10-12.
This article is dedicated to the memory of all the victims known and sadly unknown.
20th November 2006
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